So that happened.France_Flag10

It takes a few days after a tragedy to comprehend how you feel about it. Initially, all you can feel is shock. Sometimes it is just in passing, you recover after a few minutes. Other times it is a real slow burn, it takes time for the shock to even hit you. The attacks on Paris on Friday the 13th hit me hard right away, and never really let up. Partially because we have a lot of French friends, partially because we have been to Paris a few times, and recognize the streets when they show them on the news, and partially because, as tragic as this was, it very narrowly avoided becoming far, far worse.

Shooting up a concert and a restaurant, multiple bombs, 100+ people dead. Those bombs were meant to be inside a Football match. With follow up bombs going off in the panicking crowd. Good security kept that from happening. I can’t imagine how many more could have been killed if those bombs went off in the stadium. We all got lucky.

Terrorists also hit Beirut and Baghdad this week. A Russian airliner went down the week before.

It’s been a pretty shitty November.

There really hasn’t been as much coverage of the other incidents, perhaps because American Media treats Russia and the middle east as “others” and not worth the coverage, Maybe it was just out of the news cycle. But Paris had an impact. People die every day. We, as a culture, aren’t very sensitive to it anymore. When you consider that the number of people killed in the Paris attack is about the same as 3 days of regular Gun Violence deaths in the US, you realize that we tune out death on a daily basis. It takes something very special to get through. And this was special.

For most of the world, Paris is the city where life is “Amélie” and “Ratatouille” all day long, and “Moulin Rouge” at night. It’s a romantic ideal with a zip code. Everything is romance and mimes and snails in your Happy Meal. We can look across the rest of the world and be disillusioned by the grey pressure of life, but everyone looks to Paris with Joy. That’s why I think an attack on Paris breaks through everyone’s cynicism. Terrorism isn’t about killing people, it’s about spreading fear, and hitting a place of such Joy (even if it is just the fantasy and perception we know) cranks that fear to 11.

I heard folks here in the US talk with sudden fear, as if an attack from ISIS is the next truly scary thing in their life. Let’s be clear, I live in America. I don’t fear terrorists from ISIS. I fear the toddler that found mommy’s loaded gun in the glove box of her F150. I fear the lack of any driving instruction as I cross the street. I fear the quality of our food (whether it’s ecoli or Type II Diabetes coming for me first). Where I live, Terrorists are the bogeyman, not a real threat.

And listening to the interviews of the Parisians after this attack, I think they know this lesson. I don’t hear fear and screaming for retribution, I hear sorrow and mourning for their loss, but the desire to stand up tall again. As they left the stadium, immediately after the attack, people were singing “La Marseillaise” with pride in their voice. They cheered each other as they walked out. We can all heal, but it has to be our choice.

Intelligence and vigilance saved lives, but refusing to be afraid is what stops the terror.

eject8As I sit in a bar in Los Angeles right now, listening to some douchebag in a poorly cut, but very expensive suit trash-talk the Seahawks and their fans (myself included), I reflect on what I have set for myself as policy when I deeply disagree with someone.


It’s a work in progress, as I generally have a lack of temper and self-control, but I really don’t have another choice. I get set off easily, and I have a tendency to go off with all guns blazing when someone diametrically disagrees with me. But I’ve gotten better with this for the most part. Minor disagreements are pretty easy to discuss and eventually find common ground on. I can reach out. I can make the conversation not personal.

But I’m at a point where I’m not interested in dealing with racist or other bullshit like an adult. Those are easy calls, but more than that, I have to step out of certain arguments once I have determined one gap: a common language.

I found this with deep political differences. If I’m arguing with a Hard-core, Tea Party conservative, who thinks that any and every action by the government is inherently evil, we can’t have a policy discussion. There is no middle ground. If I’m discussing diet with a Vegetarian or Vegan, you can’t get into the benefits of meat quality. The concept isn’t in the conversation.

We simply don’t have a common language to speak.

So now, my personal policy is to try to disengage. If I think that there is no way to communicate, then I shouldn’t try. Alternately, if something is setting my blood boiling, I try to take that as a clue and back out.

I’ve gone to unfollowing people on social Media, or in the worst case, blocking them entirely.  I don’t need to explain this to them for the same reason that I can’t have the conversation in the first place. It won’t be understood. I’ve also done this to myself when someone keeps setting me off. I’d rather cut one line of communication than permanently destroy all.

It sucks, but we live in a time where everyone has a megaphone, and being loud is more important than being right. I’d just rather be sane than right in some of these situations. I don’t always succeed, but I’m getting better.

But two more beers and I’m going over to piss down this guy’s neck…

Smells like Citizens United…

FDR On What Happens When Private Power Owns The Government.

The following is a repost of a entry of mine from a few years ago.

I’m sure this was just some “Blind Pig Finding an Acorn” type of moment, but it really creeped me out just the same. There really is no end to the utter blather coming out of FOX News, and so many of the utter moonbat comments end up as headlines elsewhere. But this time, FOX is correct. I doubt the know why they are correct, and the probably reached their conclusions through some leaps in logic worthy of Monty Pythons Holy Grail, but nevertheless, They got it.

Rawstory had the link on their site, here

If journalists vote, are they saddled with professional bias? A FOX News panel discussed the topic and came up with some strange analogies.

I immediately clicked on this link to get into this story, as I am very personally opinionated on this topic. It went on:

A column on  the Politico written by journalist Mike Allen prompted the debate. “I’m part of a minority school of thought among journalists that we owe it to the people we cover, and to our readers, to remain agnostic about elections, even in private,” he wrote. “I figure if the news media serves as an imperfect umpire, neither team wants us taking a few swings.”

Republican strategist Christine O’Donnell differed wildly in her interpretation of the journalist’s civic role. “Remember the first free elections in Afghanistan? The Taliban actually threatened death. They said that any woman who voted would have their fingers chopped off,” she said. “Yet you saw news reports of women lined up around the polling places — even if it meant that the terrorists were going to later chop off their fingers — because they know what it means to vote in a free election.”

“And then to hear journalists say, ‘I cannot be objective if I vote,’ then you should not be a journalist,” she added.

FOX News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. was almost as adamant as O’Donnell. “I think it’s ridiculous,” he exclaimed. “In fact it bothers me because it goes with the moral superiority that so-called journalists have, that their duty — which is not codified, not written in any law, or not understood by most people — is a higher responsibility than exercising the vote.”

“I’m disturbed by it,” he continued. “I think they should get real and act like real Americans.”

I was stunned. While the last line from the FOX host was their typical brand of cookie-cutter bravado, I agreed with his main point.

Impartial Journalists? Please.

No one, no one, is truly impartial. Everyone has opinions. Unless, of course, you know nothing about the topic at hand, then, and only then, you can be impartial, truly an objective observer. If you completely avoid learning about something, avoid any analysis of what you hear or see, and simply write what is told to you and print it as such, then, I guess, that would be impartial, it would be objective. But it wouldn’t be Journalism.

That’s called Stenography.

I get so bent about this because it isn’t a new concept to understand. Take my favorite source for Journalism: Hunter S. Thompson. His take?

So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

And Hunter from an interview here

MH: How will history remember Bill Clinton?

HST: I don’t know about history. I don’t get any satisfaction out of the old traditional journalist’s view — “I just covered the story. I just gave it a balanced view.” Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long. You can’t be objective about Nixon. How can you be objective about Clinton?

MH: Objective journalism is why politics have been corrupt for so long?

HST: If you consider the great journalists in history, you don’t see too many objective journalists on that list. H. L. Mencken was not objective. Mike Royko, who just died. I. F. Stone was not objective. Mark Twain was not objective. I don’t quite understand this worship of objectivity in journalism. Now, just flat-out lying is different from being subjective.

Hunter’s last line really makes the sticking point on the whole topic.

We become frustrated with the coverage we see on organizations like FOX, because they have have opinions, don’t pretend to be objective, and then go and use that as an excuse to flat out lie and make shit up.

Their justification is that they claim they are balancing out the impact of the “Liberal Media”. (Why lies balance out uncomfortable facts, I still don’t know)

The Mainstream Media in turn, has tried to counter this perception of Liberal Bias with the inclusion of a counterpoint of every argument in every story. We have seen this grow more and more ludicrous for years, where we now have a voluntary  “Fairness Doctrine” self-imposed by the leading “journalists” where no fact or opinion can get reported without an opposing view treated equally. (shout out to Joe Klein!)

I remain shocked that we haven’t gotten to the point of reporting stories about child-rapists, where we cut over to someone who says “Well, you know, we have our next guest who thinks that child-rape isn’t so bad…”

But I digress…

Peter Johnson Jr. was right. Journalists should vote, they should have opinions, and be honest about them. But he and I split there. It isn’t about being patriotic, or being a “Real American”.

If your job is to report the facts, you have to have learn about the facts. You have to research. You have to understand what is true and what is not, and you need to report that. Journalists need to know themselves as well, and be open about their bias. Honest, open bias can be understood by the reader, and doesn’t invalidate the writing, when is is coupled with honest, verifiable facts.

Those facts are what we need, not fake balance, and not propaganda either.

At least that is MY opinion. Honestly.

That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that “it doesn’t matter who’s President” has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World–or been beaten and gassed by police for trespassing on public property–or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons–or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.
–Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube